Designers Propose Skyscrapers Nestled Inside Sequoias

FRIDAY, MAY 5, 2017

A quartet of South Korean designers hopes to carve out a niche in the architectural realm with a proposal that combines technological know-how with nature.

The designers—Ko Jinhyeuk, Cheong Changwon, Cho Kyuhung and Choi Sunwoong—unveiled a conceptual scheme entitled “Tribute: The Monument of Giant.” They plan to insert towers within the hollowed-out trunks of giant sequoias trees, which are found in California’s Sierra Nevada Mountains.

Structures would be placed where the heartwood—the older, harder, nonliving wood in the tree’s center—has rotted. The buildings also would prevent the dying trees from toppling.

The design is just a concept; there are no immediate plans to build one.

"This project attempts to show a new architectural approach to human coexistence with nature, in harmony with the nature's temporality," the team said. "The architecture quietly takes place in the empty void of trunks, without hindering the breathtaking landscape formed by the giants. It then becomes active as an artificial organ to replace the trunks rotten away."

The concept may seem far-fetched, but it has garnered acclaim. The scheme received one of 22 honorable mentions at this year’s eVolo skyscraper competition, which invites architects and designers to conceive futuristic towers.

Barking Up the Right Tree

If any tree boasts the stature needed to house a structure, a giant sequoia is the logical choice. The largest sequoias are as tall as a 26-story building, with some growing to a height of more than 300 feet. The trees can live up to 3,000 years.

According to the designers, a structural core would run up the center of a giant sequoia, with a lattice-like cage forming an outer casing behind the bark, which could be as much as 3 feet thick. A series of platforms would be used for education, laboratories, exhibitions and observation decks. A system that mirrors the tree's natural collection method would draw ground water.

Environmental Plea

The team said its conceptual design could be an antidote to environmental woes, and that it will draw attention to the trees’ plight.

"It may be a valuable experience for those to feel the synergy of the beautiful landscape of the giant sequoia forest fused with the amenity space, which is quite different from the grey building forest of cities," the team said.

Editor's note: This story was one of our most popular of 2017 and appeared in our Readers' Choice issue on Dec. 29.


Tagged categories: Architecture; Asia Pacific; Building Envelope; Building science; Commercial / Architectural; Environmental Protection; North America

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